Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Special Needs Community Resources

Do you know what's weird to me?  There are so many community supports for children with special needs but so few for adults who require those same services.  In so many places, when you turn 18 you become ineligible for so many programs that are so essential for so many individuals.  That's so unfortunate.  It seriously makes me sad.

There are conditions that people put a lot of research money in to and conditions that people really pity in kids.  Those kids get a lot of donations and services in the community.  Those kids' lives are made better and easier by people who work hard to give them opportunities to reach their full potential.  But when they're 18, why should those services suddenly stop?  Why do so many organizations stop investing in people once they reach that magical threshold age?

I don't access any community supports right now.  Last year, I did access a few supports, mostly through my university campus's disability resource center, where one of the staff members was very helpful with guiding me to what I was looking for.  Before university, I attended all sorts of programs and groups as well as various therapies.  I now that I've reached my early twenties, I'm too old to qualify for most of them anymore.

But being "an adult" doesn't mean that someone is done needing help.  I know a lot of people who are much older than me but who rely on private services to help them in their day-to-day life.

Adults matter, too.

I think we all know that.  I don't think that's a groundbreaking statement.  But I do think it's important to recognize that a lot of places really do leave young adults stranded in terms of resources when they "age out" of programming.

Of course I see the value of helping kids, but what makes adults any less valuable?

In typically-developing culture, adulthood is seen as this magical time when individuals no longer need the support and nurturing they received as children because they are supposed to be fully independent.  However, for individuals with special needs -- including Autistics -- that often isn't the case.  As much as I would like to say I am fully independent, I know this is a lie.  I have so many people around me who help me with the little things I cannot do, and this is the case for most Autistic young adults I know as well.

One day I want to "grow up" to a point where I no longer need people to translate the world for me, remind me to eat, and make my house safe.  But I'm not quite there yet.  And a lot of people need more support than me.

So, I wonder, why does the availability of community resources decrease so drastically once one reaches "adulthood"?